Panthers compete early but fall to powerful Somerset
By Jim Turner

Posted on September 27, 2020 4:13 PM


While playing perhaps the toughest schedule for a Class A team in the state to start the season, the Russellville Panthers have remained competitive, especially in the first quarter.

The Panthers continued their pattern of not trailing at the end of the first quarter before losing 41-9 to defending Class 2A state champion Somerset at Rhea Stadium Friday.

Even though the Briar Jumpers dominated the second quarter, the Panther defense held the visitors scoreless in the third quarter and avoided a running clock throughout the game. That demonstrated a toughness that Coach Mikie Benton likes.

The Panthers took an early lead by first holding the Briar Jumpers to a three-and-out to start the game and then immediately marching 53 yards for a score. Quarterback Lennon Ries ran 13 yards for a first down and then completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Hampton on a fourth-and-9 play.

Ironically, Dustin Brown’s conversion kick came up short, since he kicked a 33-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, one of the longest for the Panthers in decades.

Somerset quickly tied the game, but the visitors’ kicker missed, too. Brown boomed a 41-yard punt late in the quarter, and the second quarter began with the score tied 6-6.

The second quarter was all SHS. The visitors led 28-6 at the half. They needed 14 more points to start a running clock, but the Panther offense picked up some first downs and the defense held on to avoid it.

Somerset’s record-setting quarterback Kiyah Sheron, who has signed to play for the University of Kentucky, threw for a modest 153 yards.

Ries accounted for 185 total yards of offense. He completed 10 of 24 pass attempts for 127 yards and a touchdown while being intercepted twice. Additionally, he was the ball carrier on 11 downs for 58 yards.

Xavier Coleman caught 3 of those passes for 19 yards. Jackson Hampton had 2 receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. Jovari Gamble rushed 16 times for 57 yards while catching 2 passes for 31 yards. Josh Allen was the third Panther to catch at least two passes for 15 yards. Jaquis Todd caught a pass for 15 yards and rushed 4 times for 8 yards. Elliott carried the ball 4 times for 13 yards.

The Panthers accumulated 263 total yards.

After three games, Josh McMurry is leading the defense in total tackles (18), solo tackles (16), fumbles forced (2), and tackles for losses (10), and he’s done that in just two games. Elliott leads the team in interceptions (3) and fumble recoveries for a touchdown (1) while being second in tackles (16) and solo tackles (14).

The other category leaders are Zach Dowlen (tied with a fumble recovery) and Brown in field goals (1). Dowlen has 11 total tackles, and he joined Allen in recording half a sack. Brown is the punter, but his average yardage has not been announced. Sack leaders with 1 each are McMurry, Elliott, Ben Allen and Henry Graves. In fact, Graves has 6 tackles in 2 games, but 5 of them have been for losses.

Lamarcus Hickman has 14 tackles, 11 of them solos. Gamble is credited with 15 tackles, 3 of them for losses. Three of Allen’s 6 tackles have been for losses.

The LoJo

Russellville Athletic Director says Somerset has one of the most spectacular high school stadiums in the state, but notes that the players were impressed with their first look at Rhea Stadium.

Davenport says, “Somerset’s football team arrived at 4:30 Friday to tour our stadium. They took pictures in front of the stadium, on the famous end zone hill, and of the old ticket booth. They were googling the athletes that are on the front of the stadium entrance. They said it was the neatest stadium they've ever been to. They loved it and just went on and on about how awesome it was! They said you could feel the history when you walk in.

“We're lucky to play at one of the greatest stadiums around.

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